Who is Killing Your Project?

by David Scott on January 23, 2012

Prior to jumping into the world of PeopleSoft consulting, I spent many years implementing accounting solutions, as well as conducting instructor-led training for those applications.  In my years, I had some great classes, and I had some that just plain left me scratching my head.  Was it me?  Probably not: nobody except the lead developer knew the software better than me.  Was it my delivery?  I didn’t think so: I resonated with people and their survey forms said so.  Was it the material?  Okay, maybe….sometimes accounting software doesn’t compare with the world news, or the latest celebrity gossip.

It took me a while to recognize characteristics of the adult learner and how the dynamics of the people in class impacted the whole class.  I can’t remember who shared this with me, but my world became crystal clear when I recognized the three types of learners – explorers, vacationers, and prisoners.

Explorers are there because there is a world waiting for them and they want to know about it.  They hang on every word looking for opportunity to be better, do better, or just make things better.

Vacationers are there because they just want to get out of their day job.  It is an interesting break from the mundane.  Needless to say, their heart is not always invested in what you are trying to say or do.

The last group is the prisoners.  These are people who are forced to be there.  Imagine their reaction when their boss said “I need you to attend this training”.   It should come as no surprise when you catch these people doing everything except what you want them to do.

I share this with you because I am often perplexed about the amount of time spent in today’s world in meetings, conference calls, planning sessions, etc.  The next time you have to run a meeting, maybe you should do a quick inventory of who is in the room and what category they fit into.  Chances are pretty good that the prisoners won’t volunteer (or accept responsibility) for anything, much less grab an idea and run with it, and the vacationers will agree to anything as long as it does not create more work for them.

As a consulting company, we work with many organizations implementing new software.  That often means adopting new systems, implementing new business processes, and challenging the client to see things in a new and different way.  Of the three types of people I have described above, who do you think tends to perform well in these scenarios?  And more importantly, how many of these people are on your project right now?  If the answer is “not enough,” you may have just found who is killing your project.

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